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Amtrak

Autumn Express Part 2 – The Excursion

5th November 2016

The departure time from New York was 8am.  The train started boarding at 7:30 on track 10.  Thankfully I was able to get a window seat, even though I was a bit late waiting on a bagel.  The train was sold out (they didn’t sell the seat rows without windows).

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Train stopped in Lancaster

When leaving New York, the first two cars were left empty for the people boarding at Newark.  There were quite a few people who were looking to have an entire row for their group, but due to the large number of people, they were unable to find one.  There was some discussion whether it would make more sense to do reserved seating on the train, but that is a question I will leave for another day.  I heard estimates that the train was filled with over 500 passengers.

The consist of the train had: P42 – 145 (1971 – 2011), P42 – 42 (Veterans), ACS-64 642(Veterans), Metroliner – 9800 (Crew car), Amclub – 85999 (Merchandise car), Amfleet – 82798 (Coach), Amfleet – 82660 (Coach), Amfleet – 82654 (Coach), Amfleet – 82599 (Coach), Amfleet – 43372 (Cafe), Amfleet – 82787 (Coach), Amfleet – 82701 (Coach), Amfleet – 43383 (Cafe), Amfleet – 82744 (Coach), Amfleet – 82745 (Coach), Amfleet – 82647 (Coach), and Amfleet – 82562 (Coach).  For those of you who are trying to keeping track, that would be 3 locomotives, 1 crew car, 1 merchandise car, 2 cafe cars, and 10 coach cars.  According to the staff, it was two keystone trains put together plus the special cars.

When talking with some of the organizers about how a trip like this is organized, they mentioned that it is much easier to base this in the north east corridor.   Several people had asked if they would consider a train in the rockies, but he said that the cost and time for dead heading the equipment out there and back would have been to much.  When questioned about where the trip next year will be, they said that Boston (which would include trackage from North Station to South Station) and the in-land route was being considered.

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Country side in Pennsylvania

Many of the staff on the train were amtrak employees who volunteered their time for this event.  Which was very nice since they appeared to be the train geeks (and wanted to be there), not just the ones who are in it for the check.

The scenery for the first part was nice.  Many rural landscape as shown above.

The route started and ended in New York.  It went through {Newark, Lehigh Valley Railroad, Musconetcong Tunnel, Allentown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Zoo Tower, Newark, and New York} containing over 150 miles of rare milage.  The approximate route is shown below in green.

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Route of the train

The demographics of the trip had a large contingent of families, railfans over the age of 50, some leaf peepers, and quite a large group of railfans under 30.  There were a couple of guys fully setup with scanners, milage charts, and GPSs.  I was also surprised by the number of railfans out along the line to take pictures of the train as it passed by.  Pretty much every level crossing had at least 4 people taking pictures.  Well, mostly videos as that I’ve found a plethora of videos online and very few pictures.

Lego minifig not included

Lego minifig not included

The cost of the ticket included a lunch, insulated lunch bag, and a pin.  The lunch consisted of a chicken sandwich, cookies, chips, and a water.  It was much better than I expected.  The cafe car had the regular fare and a reasonable selection of beers as well.  Strangely, the first thing they ran out of was Mountain Dew.  Didn’t realize that railfans were such fans of it.  The cafe car attendant said this was the first time he had ever run out of Mountain Dew.

Coming from the sleepy railroad city of Ottawa, it was great to see the diverse and busy workings of larger operations.

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Although the ride was scenic, taking pictures was quite challenging.  The train travelled at a good speed most of the time, requiring a higher shutter speed and higher ISO on the cloudy day.  The train stopped in Lancaster for a photo op.

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Staged Photo-op

Initially I was going to take the picture from the platform closest to the train because that is the side that the sun was providing the best light.  The issues with that was that the train was to close to get it framed (and there were a gazillion people).  I decided to go to the far platform and shoot from over there.  This allowed me to frame the image much better, but resulted in shadows.  You can’t win them all.

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The merchandise car was always busy.  It contained many pins, blankets, DVDs, toys, mugs, etc.  I ended purchasing two mugs and some pins.

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Gift shop in a rail car

We arrived back in New York on time.  It was a very good trip and very much worth the effort of the travel down there.

Running Extra – The only problem with being on the train is that you can’t take pictures of the train.  Below is a video of the train going through Overbrook from wagz0627.

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